Riding the wave of the single male whiskey trend is the second coming of the speakeasy. At Speakeasy Mortar, there is no sign—and you can't even open the door yourself. It opens only after the staff slides open a little wooden peephole to see who's outside. The “chosen” can enjoy their moderately-priced drinks in a moderately comfortable environment. Whiskey at 20,000 won a pop isn’t exactly affordable, but relatively so if you keep in mind that a certain bar in Cheongdam serves up glasses at 30,000 won each. Speakeasy Mortar is a easy place to kill time with excellent music backed by a quality sound system. It's relaxed with a mature sophistication. Note: your mobile won’t get much signal here, yet another rarity in hyper-connected Seoul (we're counting that as a plus).
This Humphrey Bogart of Hongdae bars hides on the basement level of the Vans Store. It’s not the top shelf alcohol, the first-class mixology or the classic décor that’ll have you falling in love – it’s the utter lack of pretentiousness. With expert bartender sense, Robin (the bar’s owner) and other staff are quick to tailor a drink according to your taste palate. Although our personal favorite is a Grey Goose and mascarpone cheese combination called the Porma Dulce, none of the drinks fail to deliver. This is the place to go if you want to impress someone. Easily one of the country’s best bars and definitely the most underrated; your first visit to Robin’s Square will be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Take a seat at the bar, look up, and you’ll find sparkling array of whiskies and spirits hung up like Christmas lights. Short for “Strong of Heart and Mind,” SAHM is a small but serious bar located on a side street of Apgujeong Rodeo Street. Run by an owner who rarely smiles or talks, SAHM comes the closest in Seoul to resembling the bar culture and philosophies of Brooklyn neighborhood bars. The lights are dimmed down low and the bartenders are knowledgeable, and (unlike the owner) always up for casual conversation. Make an abstract order for a cocktail, and let the bartender surprise you. We were pleased with our order of "an old-fashioned-like drink minus the whiskey and the orange zest.”
There is no question about the pairing of well-aged whisky and quality chocolate—this doesn’t only apply to wine. Suprisingly located in the midst of the raucous Hongdae university district (more specifically, the notorious alleyway near hookup hotspot Between Night n Music), d.still is staffed with skilled (and attractive) bartenders to boot. The menu exhibits their attention to detail, and paired with their quality cocktails sets the mood for fine dining. Miyeok seaweed in the winter, dureup shoots in the spring—d.still utilizes seasonal ingredients paired with the perfect cocktail. Audible treats include the likes of Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden.
Posh. High-end. Sophisticated. All words that come to mind when you step into Le Chamber. From their pricing to their service, Le Chamber is a speakeasy that strives for the finest. Diageo World Class champions and owner-bartenders Eom Do-hwan and Lim Jae-jin offer seven-star service. Consecutive Korean champion Park Sung-min recently joined the star roster, garnering more interest. Their sign has no distinct shape or form, understandably so as a speakeasy, but the entrance to their basement is even more intriguingly mysterious. The entrance is shaped like a bookshelf, and only if you pick the right book will the door open. It's a classic mystery novel touch in a modern-day setting. With the recent growth of high-end bars like Vault +82 in Cheongdam, Le Chamber is at the top of our list of must-sees.